On a sunny, warm Friday morning, about 800 students and staff of Pulaski Street Elementary School streamed into the streets of downtown Riverhead to participate in Riverhead Community Awareness Program’s 31st Say No To Drugs march.
Chanting “Say No To Drugs!” and “Keep Clean!,” marchers clad in “Drug Free Body” T-shirts from 16 fifth-grade classes and 15 sixth-grade classes strode south on Roanoke Avenue, then west on 2nd Street, returning to Pulaski Street School via Griffing and Hallett avenues.
Hundreds of onlookers cheered on the marchers, especially students from Roanoke Avenue Elementary School. The guest of honor of this year’s march was Riverhead Police Officer Byron Perez, 32, a former Pulaski Street student and a 2003 graduate of Riverhead High School.
The guest of honor of this year’s march was Riverhead Police Officer Byron Perez, 32, a former Pulaski Street student and a 2003 graduate of Riverhead High School.
“Every year we think about who has been a role model. Officer Perez has been teaching a [CAP] bilingual program every month, and he’s made it his mission to reach out to all sectors of the community,” said Riverhead CAP executive director Felicia Scocozza.
At the conclusion of the march, speakers ranging from school leaders to elected officials encouraged students seated on the school’s lawn to stay away from drugs.
In his keynote address, Perez said CAP offers Pulaski Street students “a critical line of social emotional support” that’s needed to guard against the pressures of succumbing to peer pressure.
“I played varsity football and lived my whole entire life in Riverhead. I know very well the pressures our kids face. Thanks to my loving family, I was able to avoid the pitfalls that trap many.” Now, he said, “it’s an honor to give back to the community that I love.”
Now, he said, “it’s an honor to give back to the community that I love.”
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Carl Corry
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